Corvettes at Carlisle – First ZL1 Engine Alive and Well!

 

Dateline: 8.29.12

Thanks to Kevin Mackay and his team at Corvette Repair, once piece of lost Corvette history has been found, refurbished, and ready for the show circuit.

Be sure to catch the below slide show!

Yes, the original fan was green.

The entire Q-Chevrolet project quickly fizzled due to cost concerns but several great ideas came out of the project. The unique Peter Brock and Bob Veryzer-designed body eventually was developed into the 1963 Sting Ray. The all-aluminum engine proposal started the ball rolling with aluminum parts gradually seeded into various Corvette engines. While aluminum water pumps, intake manifolds, and bell housings were relatively easy to develop, heads and the block were another story. By the early ‘60s, Duntov began experimenting with aluminum heads, but they proved to be unreliable. The small-block Chevy engine was already a lightweight, but the thought of an even lighter version of the engine was indeed tantalizing.

Corvettes have been powered by all-aluminum engines since the arrival of the LS1 in the all-new C5 1997 Corvette. Of course, today nearly all engines are  made with the lightweight metal. These days, the move is on to integrate even lighter magnesium, carbon fiber, and plastic parts wherever possible. But back in 1957, only the exotic cows of the most expensive European sports cars had all-aluminum engines.So in 1957 when new general manager Ed Cole proposed his Q-Chevrolet line of trans-axle cars, including the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov jumped on the chance. No one inside GM was more tuned into the advantage of an all-aluminum engine than Duntov. The proposal Duntov outlined for his vision of the Q-Corvette included the mandatory trans-axle and an all-aluminum, fuel-injected small-block Chevy engine. The Rochester Fuelie had just arrived and the small-block Chevy engine was only in its third year of production. No one in Detroit was making all-aluminum engines, so this was a very outrageous proposal.

When Kevin told me about his find, he said that like his other restoration work, his intention was to refurbish the ZL-1 back to its Hot Rod cover girl configuration in time for the 2012 30th Corvettes at Carlisle Show. If you have never been to the Corvettes at Carlisle Show, every year, there’s a special feature called “Chip’s Choice” along the long wall of Building T. For 2012 the Chips Choice theme was “The Best of the Big-Blocks” and featured many of Corvette Repair’s magnificent big-block Corvettes. So it was very fitting that Mackay’s fully restored ZL-1 engine was part of the show.

Attending the Corvettes at Carlisle Show is a real pleasure. How often does a Corvette fan get to experience complete sensory overload. With 60 years of history and heritage, plus thousands of Corvettes in all different configurations, “sensory overload” about says it all. After several hours, it’s “Oh, there’s another Grand Sport, and another race car, and another stocker, and another…” So when I was in Building T looking at the ZL-1 engine on display, it was kind of surreal.

For me, it was a real thrill to see a piece of Corvette history that I had only ever seen in photographs for 43 years! Inside my head I was hearing, “WOW!!! There it is! The Hot Rod cover engine that started the legend!” By the time you are my age, most of the people at these shows are much younger and many weren’t even born when the big-blocks ruled the world of Corvettes. So while I was marveling at the sight of a unique piece of Corvette history that was once lost for a long time and now found and brought back to its former glory, others were just strolling by, glancing at the ZL-1, and moving on. Just an engine on a stand. – Scott

Related: The Great 454 ZL-1 1969 10-Second Monster Corvette Pumpkin! – CLICK HERE.

VIDEO – 427 ZL-1 John Greenwood & A NHRA Top Fuel Record Holder Chevy Top Fueler! - CLICK HERE.


 

The above 11×17 laser-etched print is available for just $49.95 + $8.00 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, or by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time.


The above 11×17 parchment print is available for just $24.95 + $6.95 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, or by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time.


 The above 11×17 parchment print is available for just $24.95 + $6.95 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, or by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time.


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